Gartner redesigns Windows Vista


There is an article in Techworld.com mentioning a curious research report from Gartner implying a redesign of the Windows Vista code base, around virtualization. Huh? To quote from the article:

Instead, the research firm predicts, Microsoft will be forced to migrate Windows to a modular architecture tied together through hardware-supported virtualisation. “The current, integrated architecture of Microsoft Windows is unsustainable – for enterprises and for Microsoft,” wrote Gartner analysts Brian Gammage, Michael Silver and David Mitchell Smith.

The problem is that the operating system’s increasing complexity is making it ever more difficult for enterprises to implement migrations, and impossible for Microsoft to release regular updates. This, in turn, stands in the way of Microsoft’s efforts to push companies to subscription licensing.

There is a basic confusion going on here about architectural choices vs. release frequency.

On the last point (release frequency), Microsoft is committed to not repeat the mistake of delaying a Windows version that much (or any other Windows version) and instead, impose a sense of predictable rythm in releasing incremental, predictable and evolutionary improvements in future versions of Windows. Gaining this sense of rythm can be done even with an extremely complex code base such as Windows, and the proof is the predictable, stable releases of Windows Server versions already exist: Windows 2000 (beginning of 2000), then Windows Server 2003 RTM (april 2003), then Windows Server 2003 R2 (RTM November 2005). 

That said, if we are talking about Operating Systems in general, the architectural idea of achieving modularity through virtualization is a very interesting idea. I would like to point out to a cool research project called Singularity which achieves exactly that goal. If you want to see how operating systems will look like, say, 20 years from now, you can start with Singularity. One note, though: Singularity achieves isolation through pure software mechanisms. Hardware protection (like Hypervisor support from the AMD processors) is also possible to be used in conjunction with software isolation, although this is not a direct goal of the Singularity project.

Comments (5)

  1. I think another use of virtualization could be:

    Build a completely new user-mode Windows that will execute managed applications (.NET Framework, WPF…) only.

    Then provide an isolated VM to run unmanged/Win32 applications, for compatibility.

    I only hope this will not take 20 years. For all the daily security and stability issues in IT, IMHO Microsoft should begin with this ASAP.

  2. AdiOltean says:

    >>> I only hope this will not take 20 years. For all the daily security and stability issues in IT, IMHO Microsoft should begin with this ASAP.

    You can already do this today with Virtual PC…

    Thanks, Adi

  3. To my impression they are referring to the release frequency of the updates unless the excerptions is missing some lines?

    Imho it would  be a great ideo to go back to the kernel and extract everything that is not directly related to the kernel and release these features as modules. Therefore people can install the Windows Kernel and on top of that install the modules they want. Then there should be distro for regular/home users.

    I want a clean Windows and just install the stuff I need or want.

  4. Adi Oltean says:

    >>> Imho it would  be a great ideo to go back to the kernel and extract everything that is not directly related to the kernel and release these features as modules. Therefore people can install the Windows Kernel and on top of that install the modules they want. Then there should be distro for regular/home users.    I want a clean Windows and just install the stuff I need or want.

    Internally, Vista is organzied in a much more modular manner compared with previous Windows OSes like W2K, XP or WS03. However, the ability to "select exactly what you need" in your OS sounds tempting but in the case of customer OSes it can explode the test matrix needed to validate that, say, Visio 2009 will work fine on all possible Windows versions.